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Blind Fish, Bats, and Slimy Rock. Sounds Cozy.

29 Mar

Linville Caverns entrance signWho doesn’t love spending an hour-ish in a dimly lit space, with water dripping on your head, and trying desperately not to rub against slimy looking green rocks? Count me in. I LOVE it!

Linville Caverns in North Carolina takes you inside a mountain. That’s pretty damn cool.

Mountains or Molehills
Caverns can form only in limestone, which is porous rock. Most mountains are granite, but sometimes, like in this region of North Carolina, limestone is both tall and cavernous.

Ribbons and Broken Stalagmites at Linville Caverns

Ribbons and a Broken Stalagmite

How Does your Cavern Grow?
It takes a day for rain water to seep through the rock and affect the cavern. Then millimeter by millimeter, the rock formations grow.

Utter Darkness
There are two places in the world that have complete, natural darkness: a cavern and an abyss in the sea.

Anybody in Here?
The fish who live inside are blind – no light = no sight. And bats hibernate for six months.

Formations at Linville Caverns

Some of the formations are rather unsightly

Do you love caverns and caves? Me, too! Read about  Blanchard Springs Cavern in Arkansas.

Do you like to explore these kind of spaces or do you feel closed in?

A Slice of the Big Apple

27 Feb

New York City, NY, NYC, I love NY, mug, souvenir, taxi, cab, statue of liberty, snow globeNew York City’s main draw for me is friends. The city is amazing – and so is learning about how friends live there. It’s a life completely different from mine – and that’s the point. The point of being New York and the point of travel.

I love the anonymity at the same time that you’re face to face with so many people. I love the grandeur of some buildings and the despair of others.

Delancey Street, NY, New York, NYC, Crossing Delancey, subwayV.E.R.Y. Specific Sales Plan
hat, NY, NYC, New York, Lower East SideThis trip took me to Delancey Street, where I fantasized I’d meet the pickle man. Sadly the store closed for Shabbos (Jewish Sabbath) just before we (elementary school friend Miriam and now New Yorker)  arrived. But along the way we met a Greek man who (talks a lot and) has had his hat store for 40 years. It’s just a tiny closet of a shop and that’s his livelihood (unless I’m naive and there are, um, other sources of income).

For Better Service, Don’t Speak English
Then there’s the fabric store where we got better service once Miriam started talking in Russian with the men. Apparently flirting has no age boundaries! It was overwhelming and overflowing: ribbons and lace; patterns and textures. And it made me wish I could sew more than a loose button.Fabric store, NY, NYC, New York, Lower East side, ribbon, fabric, spool, button

Holy Sugar Coma, Batman!
Economy Candy claims to have the most candy in one place. There may be some truth to that assertion.  A summer-long quest for ribbon candy for Mom was satisfied–only to discover it tastes disgusting. Oh well! Treats indigenous to communities around the world. Childhood memories. Candy necklaces, enormous lollipops, more tootsie rolls than Dad could dream of. The most fun was hearing all the shouts of glee and squeals across the store as friends called out to each other when they found something.Economy Candy, NY, NYC, New York, Llower East Side, chocolate, scale, gobstoppers, pretzels, candy bars

While groovy stationery stores and lovely imports can be found anywhere, there’s something about the sparse square footage of New York that makes everything feel like a treasure.

Driftwood Potential

3 Feb

Do you think of trees when you think of the beach? Me neither.

But the Outer Banks of NC aren’t your typical beach. Rife with history and lore, OBX also sports a beach on both the sound and the ocean, making for an incredible variety of beauty and options for activity. So finding the tree-based Nags Head Ecology Preserve preserve really fits right in.

Nags Head Preserve signSigned, Sealed, Delivered
When the entrance sign to a place is lovely and compelling, you’re off to a good start.

Just Down the Road a Bit
After leaving the welcome center and seeing the stagnant (but pretty) water with arching bridges, you think, “Is this all they decided to preserve?”

Fret not, it’s isn’t. To get to the good stuff you walk down the road and wonder, “Am I headed in the right direction?You are. Turn left at the gap in the fence and then the majesty begins.

A bridged walk over the marsh presents a landscape that’s naturally framed for photos. Trees abut the marsh, giving height as contrast to the evenness of the seagrass.

Marsh at Nags Head Preserve

Exposed Tree Roots at Nags Head PreserveNew Meaning to Driftwood
And then you’re on the beach…while also in the woods. But a lot of the woods have taken a tumble…because of their proximity to the beach. It’s shaded and delicate and divine.

There’s pattern from the exposed roots and smooth texture from the wind and water. It’s a lot to take in. So I sat down for a spell and enjoyed what nature made and others preserve.

What juxtaposition of nature has caught your eye?

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The Life of a Sand Dune. More Interesting than You’d Think.

30 Jan

This is the largest natural sand dune on the East Coast. And after climbing it, I believe it. All there is to see are sand and sky. And people flying kites or going hang- gliding. The wind is incredible due to the height and being between the sound and the ocean.

The Wonder of Hang-Gliding
Kitty Hawk Kites is actually the largest hang-gliding school in the world. People line up for their turn to jump off. Some plummet, some coast, and others do what they hope for: glide. It’s majestic.

The Life of a Sand Dune
Because there’s no vegetation anchoring the sand at the top of the dune, the elevation varies with the wind and the seasons. Jockey’s Ridge varies in height between 80° and 100°.

The sand doesn’t blow away because in the winter the wind blows from the northeast and in the summer from the southwest, constantly blowing the sand back and forth.

The surface of the sand can be 30 degrees hotter than air temperature. Not a place to walk barefoot!

What design would you choose for your kite?

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Invisible Birds in the Outer Banks?

30 Jan

“More than 365 species make Pea Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina one of the best areas in the United States for birding.”

I saw two: a small black one and a white one in the water. Are the others those new fangled invisible birds?

 

The Majesty of Wild Horses at the Outer Banks

27 Jan

These horses are descendents of those who came from Spain in the 1500s. Adapting to the land, their front legs are shorter than the rear so they can balance on the dunes and eat the sea oats. They can survive drinking brackish water (15% salt), which would dehydrate any other horse.

We drove on the beach to reach the protected area. Although homes are now built here and people are encroaching their space, which is heartbreaking. The tours are required to stay 50 feet away from them to prevent mutual disease and unintentional injury.

They’re beautiful and graceful, shining in the sun. They live on this protected beach in packs of three-to-ten. One stallion per pack, unless another is his son, and one alpha mare.

They don’t like being hot (neither do I), so they follow the shadows, moving closer inland as the day progresses.

How have you adapted to your environment? (reminder: the horses’ legs are shorter for climbing the dunes)

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How the Outer Banks Can Lure Even an Anti-Beach Person

16 Jan

Peekaboo of Water
The beach and beauty hide themselves as you drive along the road at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A highway sided by craggy plants protects others who are more delicate. Only a mile wide at some points, the island has the incredible benefit of having both sunrise and sunset–on water–within arm’s reach.

A Flurry of Activity
The ocean itself is active, with waves crashing and sand to redistribute. And the people rarely stop: surfing, walking, fishing. On the sound side the action is just as busy, but the water much calmer. Warmed by the sun and only the wind to move you, people jetski, windsurf, and float.

Turns Out I’m Not a Beach Person
I was already aware of this before going to the beach. For vacation. For 10 days. But I thought, “it’s the famous Outer Banks. It’ll be different.” It was: with hikes and piers and people watching. But there was still sand. That damn sand. Shaking the sand from my tevas I felt like a dog shaking his leg after a pee.

OBX Needs a Food Network Intervention
Over- or under-spiced. Or fried. Or chicken tenders. Or treyf. What a spectacular array of choices!

Life Lesson
When the car is stuck in a sand dune, don’t stubbornly try to drive forward. Go in reverse, slowly. And then never park in a sand dune again. And no, I didn’t come up with this pearl on my own. I had to flag someone down for help.

Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Mosquito Netting
Trips like this raise desires in me for camping gear. But since I barely cook at home, it’s certainly not happening on vacation. Ahh, a pop-up tent on the beach…but how often do I go to the beach? (see above entry “turns out I’m not a beach person”) And the holy grail: an RV. That one I’ll own someday.

The Breadth and Depth of the Outer Banks

What do you love about the beach?
Or dislike about it?
Have you been somewhere that’s “not your style” but found out you loved it anyway?

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OBX, posted with vodpod